English Grammar: Causative Verbs: Make, Have, Let, Get, Help

http://www.engvid.com/ What is the difference between someone making you do something and someone having you do something? Is it correct to say “He made me clean my room” or “He made me to clean my room”? In this lesson, I look at a very common active causative verb structure with the verbs “make”, “have”, “let”, “get”, and “help.” Check out the lesson and check your understanding with the quiz.


Hey, guys. I’m Alex. Thanks for clicking, and welcome to this lesson on causative verbs. Specifically, we will be looking at the verbs “make”, “have”, “let”, “get”, and “help”, and how they are used and formed in a causative sentence structure.

So first, we have the sentence, “She made me wash the dishes.” So the causative verb is “make”, and here we’re using the past tense. We will be using the past tense for all the examples today. And, “She made me wash the dishes.” Now, in this situation, the causative verb “make” — in this context “made” — means, “She forced me. She didn’t give me a choice.” So this could be your mother, for example, forcing you to wash the dishes. Now, what we notice here is you have the subject, okay? I’m just going to do this for the first sentence and write a little S, or what looks like an S. You have your subject, the subject that is going to force the action or cause the action. You have your causative verb, which we’ll call your CV. And then, you have “me”, “she made me”. And this will be your object, okay? So, “She made me wash the dishes. She forced me to wash the dishes.” What you’ll also notice is you have “wash”. We’re using the base verb, okay? So when you have the causative verb “make”, you have this structure of subject, “make”, object, base verb. Base verb, base verb, base verb, okay? Because not all of these causative verbs follow the same structure as you’ll see.

Okay, the text sentence says, “My dad let me go by myself.” So you wanted to go to a party or you wanted to go to a movie, and your dad let you go. If you “let” someone do something, you give them permission; you allow them to do it, okay? Now, what you notice here is “my dad” — I’m just going to do quick underlines. “My dad let me.” And again, you have the base verb, okay? So just like “make”, “let” also uses a base verb after for your main verb.

The next sentence, “She had the students do the assignment.” So, “The teacher had the students do the assignment.” Now, here, the verb “had” means “requested” or “asked”. Not really “made” them do it in the same way, but she made them do it in a polite way. So if a teacher says, “Okay, please turn to page 25 and do the assignment on that page”, she’s requesting, but really, you don’t have a lot of a choice because you have to follow the instructions. So if you “have” someone do it or do something, you are requesting and asking them to do it, but really you’re politely making them do it, okay? So same structure, “He had the students” — base verb, okay? We’re still using a base verb with “make”, “let”, and “have”.

The next one is “get”. So simple past, “She got me to mow the lawn.” “Mow the lawn” means to cut the grass, you know, with a lawnmower. So if someone “gets” you to “do” something, it means they “persuade” you to do something. They convince you to do something. So, “She got me to mow the lawn.” Maybe she paid me five dollars if this is my mom, again, all right? So look at this structure, though. We have “she got me”, and we don’t say, “She got me mow”; we say, “She got me to mow.” So when you use “get” in this causative form, you have to use the infinitive phrase of “to” plus the base verb, okay? “To mow”, “to do”, “to make”, “to see”, okay?

And finally, we have the causative verb “help”. So for example, “EngVid has helped me improve/to improve my English.” I think you guys know the verb “help”. It just means to “aid” you in doing something. So here, we have EngVid, and we actually have a present continuous — present continuous? Present perfect sentence. “EngVid has helped me” — and you can say “improve” or “to improve”. So the verb “help” in the causative form doesn’t discriminate between the base form and the infinitive form. You can use either one. Both are 100 percent correct, okay?

All right, guys. So again, what I want you to get from this is number one, understanding what these causative verbs mean. So if you “make” someone do something, you “force” them to do it. If you “let” someone do something, you “give them permission” to do it. If you “have” someone do something, you “request” and ask them to do something. If you “get” someone to do something, you “convince” them, “persuade” them, give them an incentive to do it. And finally, if you “help” someone do something, well, you know, you give them aid; you give them help in doing it.

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